By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Wanting Qu, generally known as “Wanting,” had a long trip to North American audiences and to North America itself. She was born and raised in Harbin, the largest city in northeast China. She performs Tuesday, March 25, at the Triple Door in downtown Seattle.
“My earliest memories of Harbin,” Wanting recalls, “involve the winter time. The winters are very cold there. I remember slipping and falling as the streets were so icy, snowball fights, ice skating, and other outdoor activities in the snow.”
Wanting arrived in Toronto, Canada, at the age of 16. She recalls “a lot of insecurities and questions in my head about the future,” she said. “Where am I going to be? What am I going to become? What is going to happen?
How long does it take? Lots of questions. My life was a big question mark.”
Cultural differences made it hard for her to feel at ease, she said. “Different values, different standards, different customs, and different ways of thinking, etc. I also sensed a lot of pressure coming from my mom and dad back home in China. I wanted to please them, but I also needed to do what I wanted. There was definitely a lot of struggling, mainly mind struggles. Of course I had to learn how to do things on my own… carry groceries, cook for myself, deal with utilities, learn how to cope with loneliness, etc… yeah, I grew up really fast!”
She was already fluent in English, having studied the language since age 6. “I loved the sound of English right from the start, as I have an ear for pitch and melody — the English language appealed to me that way and I enjoyed it. I am fluent in two languages (Chinese and English) and speak a little French and a little Japanese.
This week, Wanting Q agreed to be interviewed by Northwest Asian Weekly.
When did you first begin to play music? What age and which instruments?
I started to play piano at 6 years old. However, I didn’t start writing and playing my own music until I was 21.
You earned a business degree before deciding to go into music full time. How difficult was it to make that decision? What led to your final decision?
After four years, I realized I didn’t want to be in business. I wanted to instead pursue my music career. These years, however, were not a waste as they brought me to the realization of what I really wanted and needed to do.
Of the awards you’ve won, which are you most proud of and why?
The awards I am most proud of are the ones for Best Singer/Songwriter, Best Composer, and Fan’s Choice.
You sing in English and Chinese. How do you go about deciding which language in which to sing a song?
The language is determined by where the story or inspiration took place, i.e., if the story took place in a North American environment, then the song would probably be written in English.
What are your secrets for composing in general?
To live my life and to always write from the heart.
When did you visit Seattle for the first time, and what are your impressions of it generally, music wise, and otherwise?
I first visited Seattle in 2004. I associate Seattle with the Gorge, where I saw Lilith Fair one year. I would love to play at the Gorge some day.
How does your second album differ from your first?
My new album has more attitude and is much more mature. Working with Ron [Aniello, an American record producer] — writing and working on arrangements together — much more time was spent on this second record and the writing. I am very proud of my second album also because I feel it truly represents and shows a different side of me.
How were your appointed the first-ever tourist ambassador for Vancouver? What are your duties and how has that job gone?
Tourism Vancouver approached me. Even though I am originally from China, they consider me a true Vancouverite — and so do I. They know I speak about Vancouverites from the heart.
What are your plans for the immediate future and your long-term plans?
Immediate future is the Finish North American tour! Long term is to write more music, play more shows, and live my life. (end)
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.